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Franck: Symphony in D Minor; Roussel: Symphonie No 3 / Bernstein

Bernstein / Orchestre National De France
Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 002046002   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  César FranckAlbert Roussel
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This coupling offers two of Leonard Bernstein’s greatest late recordings. DG originally offered the Franck alone (with Saint-Saëns’ Le rouet d’Omphale), and only coupled the Roussel to a later, mid-price reissue, which then promptly went out of print. Its return on DG’s “Virtuoso” series offers cause for rejoicing. The Franck is a very, very Romantic view, with big extremes of tempo in the first movement whenever the introduction’s “motto” theme returns (sound clip), but the passion and spontaneity that Bernstein brings to the piece is very special–and totally different from Monteux’s brand of Gallic refinement. Although a big generalization, it’s probably fair to say that Monteux’s classic account is Franck for people who don’t Read more normally like Franck, while this version is for people who want to see to what extremes the music can go–legitimately. Both are necessary if you love this symphony.

As for the Roussel, a work that Bernstein recorded twice, this is hands-down the most intense, exciting performance ever recorded. It’s worth the price of the disc to hear the Adagio alone. The timing of its central climax offers an object lesson in podium genius, but then the whole performance lives and breathes as if Bernstein had composed the symphony himself, and the orchestra follows him every step of the way, from the bracing opening to the rhythmically rambunctious scherzo to the mercurial, anything but anti-climactic (for once!) finale. The sonics are a touch congested in tuttis and a little bit muddy in the bass, but are perfectly listenable for 1982 live recordings. Nothing gets between you and a visceral experience of the music. This is greatness folks, make no mistake about it.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony in D minor, M 48 by César Franck
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886-1888; France 
Date of Recording: 11/1981 
Venue:  Live  Théâtre des Champs Élysées, Paris 
Length: 42 Minutes 21 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 3 in G minor, Op. 42 by Albert Roussel
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 
Date of Recording: 11/1981 
Venue:  Live  Théâtre des Champs Élysées, Paris 
Length: 26 Minutes 57 Secs. 

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